What should college be — and do — for a student?
The answer to that question is at the heart of the Division of Student Success at Clark University. By bringing together into one function most of the support services and resources provided to students, the Division is focused on ensuring every student is offered the opportunity to find a sense of purpose, cultivate their authentic selves, feel a sense of belonging, foster lifelong connections, and engage in transformational Clark experiences to change the world.
The Division of Student Success incorporates the former Division of Student Affairs, Career Connections Center, and the services that were housed within the offices of the Dean of College: Academic Support, Academic Advising, the Writing Center, Student Accessibility Services, and the Navigator program for first-year students. Faculty advising — offered throughout the academic enterprise — remains an important area of student support, as well.
“Achieving the vision of excellence compels us to meet the needs and facilitate the success of our more diverse student body,” Provost Sebastián Royo told the Clark community in announcing the Division of Student Success last August. “The new division will drive synergy, responsiveness, collaboration, and integration among these units and create a holistic, student-centered approach to student support.”
The Division of Student Success is planning a “Launch Week” of activities from February 13-17, which will help faculty, staff, and students get to know the faces and functions of the new Division and the philosophy behind this new approach.
According to Kamala Kiem, associate provost for student success and dean of students, the creation of the Division of Student Success grew out of conversations last year between Royo, then-Dean of the College Betsy Huang, and Kiem. Royo encouraged the group to think about integrating the ways that students access resources into a more holistic approach. Huang ushered in the new First-Year Success Advising Unit, revamped and improved the Navigator program, and worked with the University to acquire a new relationship management software system to increase engagement with students. According to Kiem, the Division of Student Success builds on that early momentum as the University works toward ensuring success for its students.
In short, Kiem says, “For our students to be successful we have to operate from a philosophical perspective that their life and their academic learning experiences are equally important. The new Division merges ‘Life + Learning’ into our policies, decision-making, and actions.”
The new Division consists of:
In addition, the Division encompasses Residential Life and Housing, Community Engagement and Volunteering, Student Leadership and Programming, and the new Campus Ambassadors program, among other student-facing offices and programs.
“What we are working toward is for students, especially those experiencing challenges, to have a surround-sound experience where services, resources and technology are all interconnected when they reach out for support,” Kiem says. “That way, it will be easier for our students to navigate and coordinate with staff in different offices, and they always will feel a consistent and authentic level of support.”
This new approach provides all students with the type and level of support they need to identify and select a customized pathway to achieve their educational and career goals.
Kiem will be in the midst of next week’s activities, celebrating the fact that all of the discussions and planning are coming to fruition.
“I am beyond excited and filled with tremendous hope to achieve this highest aspiration for Clark students,” she says, “and to cultivate a holistic experience that inspires every one of our students to discover more about themselves and find their calling, and for every student at Clark to feel love and joy here.”